I recently had my taxes completed by my step-daughter who is a CPA. Thanks so much, Amy for all the hard work. Moreover, we got a refund. Yippee! I’m getting money back….wait, it’s my hard-earned money to begin with. Let’s just say the IRS came to their senses. Anyway, as part of having my taxes done, I attempted to write off my writing expenses.

Writing expenses can definitely pile up, and since we are taxed on our earnings, we should be able to write off the things that we purchase to further our careers.

Let’s begin with those who are writing solely as hobbyists, and are not running their freelancing as a business. This is me. Common sense suggests that you keep track of your expenses (contest fees, reams of paper) in order to offset any earning that you might have. One caveat for hobbyists is that you can never write off more expenses than the total amount that you bring in. Let’s say you won $500 in a poetry contest in one year, you will not be able to write off a full $1000 laptop that you bought to write your poetry on because this exceeds your earnings.

Those who have established their freelance writing as a small business have an advantage in that area. You can write off expenses that are more than your income in some of the years of operating your business. However, you must make a profit in three out of the last five years, or your business will be taxed as a hobby.

What can you write off?

Officially, your laptop or other electronics can be written off if they are solely used for your hobby or business. A computer purchase that is subsequently used as a family machine will not pass as a business expense.

If you’re submitting manuscripts and poetry to magazines and anthologies you could indeed write of concrete expenses like reams of paper, stamps, envelopes and the like. Memberships in unions and similar organizations are also allowable. I even write off business lunches, fees for assembly materials, and the cost of gas if my trip involved book promotion.

Next year, my goal is to make even more money so that I can claim to be a freelance writer.